72 HISTORY OF WESTERN EDUCATION Contrary to the opinion of those who would defer all learning till the age of seven when the boy is able to understand what is taught, and would limit the first education to a training of character, Quintilian believes that a beginning should be made as early as possible, the more so because " the elements of learning depend on the memory alone, which not only exists in children, but is at that time of life even most tenacious." " Yet," he goes on to say, " I am not so unacquainted with differences of age, as to think that we should urge those of tender years severely, or exact a full complement of work from them."* Instruction, Quintilian sees quite well, must be adapted to the age of the pupil throughout. The fact that a subject cannot be completely learned is no reason for not teaching it at all: the young mind which cannot take in all that is presented to it can at least take in part and be further on the way to a comprehension of the whole. In the same spirit, he makes allowance for differences of talents. "It is generally, and not without reason, regarded as an ex- cellent quality in a master to observe accurately differences of ability in those whom he has undertaken to instruct, and to ascertain in what direction the nature of each particularly inclines him; for there is in talent an incredible variety, and the forms of mind are not less varied than those of bodies."f The wise teacher will recognize these peculiarities of talent and make choice of studies to suit them, even accommodating his instruction to feeble intellects and only training them in the direction to which -nature invites them. In the case of the more gifted, who give promise of oratorical eminence, the absence of inclination or the appearance of inferior ability in some subjects will call for a special effort on the part of the teacher to ensure an all-round development. It is the business of the teacher, without actually opposing nature, to supplement it and make good its deficiencies. This deliberate consideration of the mental limitations due to age and individuality strikes a new note in education. The Greeks probably recognized such differences in the practice of their schools, but it would not have occurred to them that there was any need to formulate specific precepts regarding such things. It was almost a matter of course to them that there should be different instruction for different ages, and individuality * I, I, 19, 20. f n,viii, i.